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Man accused of killing Lily Burk in court

July 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Parolee Charlie Samuel, 50, faced a judge Tuesday, charged with the murder, kidnapping and robbery of Los Feliz teen Lily Burk. When Samuel made his first appearance in court, he hid his face behind the public defender. Samuel allegedly kidnapped 17-year-old Lily Burk last Friday. Hours later her body was found brutally beaten.

Samuel faces several counts of murder, robbery and kidnapping to commit a robbery. This is a special circumstance case, which means Samuel could face the death penalty.

The District Attorney's office released the following statement:
"Although filed as a capital case, the District Attorney's office will not make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty until the case moves closer to trial. If the prosecution opts not to seek the death penalty, the only other possible penalty for Samuel, if he is convicted as charged, is life in prison without the possibility of parole."

Police say Samuel kidnapped Burk near the Southwestern University School of Law on Wilshire Boulevard. A short time later, Samuel allegedly attempted to withdraw money from at least one bank using Burk's credit card. Burk called her parents but apparently didn't sound in danger.

Experts say parents should work out a way for their kids to secretly relay a message to them if they are ever in trouble.

"Have a password, a key word that kids and parents know, a word that they would only use in an emergency situation," said Robin Sax, a legal expert.

Robin Sax is a former District Attorney. She says parents can also set up code messages on cell phones.

"The one nice thing with the handy Blackberries these days is that you can program your phones with messages," said Sax. "And I think, say, a sentence in advance with 'I'm in danger, call 911' ... so with the stroke of one key, a kid could press that one button and ... know that help is on the way," said Sax.

Tuesday's arraignment was postponed until August 20.

Samuel will remain in custody without bail.

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